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Full text of "My Country And My People"

IDEALS    OF    LIFE                         105

moderation is chungho, meaning "not extreme and harmonious/'
and the Chinese word for restraint is chieh, which means
"control to proper degree." In the Shuking (Book of History),
supposed to contain the earliest Chinese political documents,
the advice of Emperor Yao, on his abdication, to Emperor
Shun was "Hold the mean!" Mencius said of another ideal
emperor, T'ang, that he "held the mean." It is said that this
emperor used to "listen to both extremes of counsel and then
apply the mean to the people," which means that he would
listen to two contradictory propositions, and give a fifty-per-
cent discount of each. So important is the Doctrine of the
Golden Mean to the Chinese that they have called their own
country the "Middle Kingdom." It is more than a geographical
notion: it signifies a way of life which, by holding on to the
mean, the normal and the essentially human, claims, as the
old scholars did, that they have discovered all the essential
truths of all schools of philosophy.

The Doctrine of the Golden Mean covers all and envelops all.
It dilutes all theories and destroys all religions. In an argument
with a Buddhist priest who is probably able to spin out an
absolute proof of the non-existence of matter and the futility
of life, a Confucianist would simply say, in his matter-of-fact
and illogical way, "What would become of the world, the state
and the human race if everybody left his home and entered a
monastery like you?" That illogical but supremely sensible
appeal to life has a clinching force of its own. Not only against
Buddhism, but against all religions and all theories, the test of
life holds. We cannot afford to be logical. In fact, all theories
have become theories only by certain ideas developing into a
psychosis in the minds of their founders. The Freudian complex
is Freud himself, and the Buddhist complex is Buddha. All
such theories, whether of Freud or of Buddha, seem to be
based on an exaggerated illusion. The sufferings of mankind,
the troubles of married life, the sight of a sore-ridden beggar or
the pains and groanings of a sick man, which to us common
men are no sooner felt than healthily forgotten, must have
struck Buddha's hyper-sensitive nerves with a force which gave
him the vision of a Nirvana. Confucianism, on the other hand,
is the religion of the common man, who cannot afford to be